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Environmental Limitations: Sustainability and the Future of Arizona

We are at a critical juncture in the evolution of our relationship to the environment, and universities must take the lead in addressing issues of sustainability. The sustainability of our region, our nation, and even our planet remains in doubt. We must confront the fact that we do not fully understand the implications of human impact on the environment, and are not adequately prepared to determine policies regarding the intersection of human and natural systems.

As citizens of Arizona we expect to enjoy a high quality of life. We expect clean air, sufficient water, and unspoiled natural beauty. But existing knowledge, technology, and policy will not ensure that our expectations are met. Arizona must develop its own insights and technologies to manage the desert, and its own policies to manage urban sprawl. We must find mechanisms appropriate to Arizona and the Southwest—a major research university has a special responsibility to seek solutions.

What will the Phoenix metropolitan area look like in fifty years? In 500 years? Arizona State University must do all it can to develop technologies and promote policies that will allow the natural beauty of Arizona to endure, even as millions of people move into the area in the years ahead. Arizona State University must make an institutional commitment to take the lead in addressing sustainability—not only in the decades ahead, but in the centuries ahead.

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